Mirnyi and Bhupathi Bury Bryan Brothers
by Laura Andriani
Thursday, September 5, 2002
Though most people would believe that Thursday night was reserved for Kid Roddick and Pistol Pete, a select few decided to attend a lesser-known but equally interesting match in the Louis Armstrong stadium. No. 6 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan, the "All-American" twins from Camarillo, California faced No. 3 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi.
Both teams played solidly in the beginning. Although Mirnyi and Bhupathi played a three-set match earlier on in the day, they seemed invigorated and confident in their play. Mirnyi and Bhupathi began the first set with speed and precision, quickly taking the 1-0 lead. Southpaw Bob Bryan, however, stunned the No. 3 seeds with four straight unreturnable serves, each clocking over 121-mph. Play continued in a similar pattern, with the Bryan brothers hanging at the baseline and Mirnyi and Bhupathi swarming the net. Each player held his serve until the eighth game, when Mike Bryan failed to return Bhupathi's drop volley during break point. From there, Mirnyi and Bhupathi controlled the set, outrunning the Bryans and hitting six winners. They took the first set in 26 minutes, 6-3.
The Bryans rebounded in the second set, quickly taking four games, while Mirnyi and Bhupathi managed to eke out only one. Winning 13 of their 16 first service points, the Bryans changed up their strategy and ratcheting up their net appearances. Points were quick, rallies were few, and in only 25 minutes, the Bryans were up 5-2. Bhupathi held strong, and Mirnyi adjusted his serve to hold the set at 3-5. On the next game however, Bob Bryan served for the match and took it with a 115-mph first serve.
The Bryans' serves continued to be lightening quick, and they seamlessly shuffled from side to side in a way that only twins can do. But even in their matching outfits, the twins could not stop speedy Bhupathi nor "The Beast". Just as they were getting comfortable, Mirnyi and Bhupathi put their groundstrokes on rapid fire. They hammered forehands and backhands at the Bryans, who waited at the net like sitting ducks.
Up 4-2, Mirnyi and Bhupathi clinched the seventh game, coming even closer to a spot in the finals.
The Bryans would play their best, holding their serve to trail by two games. But in the end, it was Mirnyi who would lead the way to victory, rifling a 110-mph serve that won him and Bhupathi the match, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Mirnyi and Bhupathi Win Doubles Championships
by Laura Andriani
Friday, September 6, 2002
Max Mirnyi and Mahesh Bhupathi continued their run in the US Open Men's Doubles tournament on Friday by winning the finals against Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek. Mirnyi, otherwise known as "The Beast" and the equally intimidating Bhupathi sprinted to a 4-1 lead in the first set.
Serving upwards of 126-mph, Mirnyi and Bhupathi tore through their groundstrokes like a unexpected hurricane. They let only two more games slip by before closing in on a first set win. On set point, Bhupathi angled a forehand volley into the ad corner, where it was untouched by his opponents.The Czech duo of Novak and Stepanek had their moments of triumph, but remained streaky throughout the first set, winning just 8 of 29 receiving points. Mirnyi and Bhupathi took the first set, 6-3.
Novak and Stepanek seemed to re-energize during the changeover, and started rifling groundstrokes at the No. 3 seeds. To say that Bhupathi hugged the net would be an understatement. The India native pounced on Novak and Stepanek's service returns with cat-like quickness.
Consequently, Novak and Stepanek changed their strategy midway through the set and responded to Bhupathi's power with a menacing force of their own. When the crucial break points came along, it was Novak who kicked it up a notch, scoring him and his partner five games as opposed to Bhupathi and Mirnyi's two. Bhupathi and Mirnyi rallied themselves to clinch the eighth game, bringing the Czech's lead to only two games. However, Stepanek peaked in the ninth game, putting an end to the second set with near-perfect serving. He and Novak would take the second set, 6-3.
Mirnyi and Bhupathi took a 3-1 lead in the third set thanks to power serves and deep volleys. Novak stayed at the baseline during many points, leaving Stepanek to chase down drop volleys. This far into the match, it seemed to be too exhausting for the Stepanek, and he moved back to join Novak at the baseline. They clinched three more games, but ultimately it was the titanic team of Mirnyi and Bhupathi who would hustle their way to victory, taking the third set, 6-4. They will split the $375,000 prize.